Carson Smith returns to Pender County Emergency Management, interim post

BURGAW – State Representative Carson Smith will return to his former post as Pender County Emergency Manager as an interim director, effective March 26.

“Carson will be the stabilizing force to lead Emergency Management through this pandemic,” George Brown, chairman of the Pender County Board of Commissioners, said. “Our Emergency Management and Public Health both have vital leadership roles as they work together to help guide our county through this event.”

Carson attended Topsail schools where he began working in many different aspects of public safety including Pender East EMS, Hampstead Volunteer Fire Department, and Scott’s Hill Fire Department. Following his college education and training as a North Carolina Highway Patrolman, Smith returned to Pender County in the 90s to take the position of Emergency Management Coordinator. Shortly after taking the job, Pender County began facing many challenges created from the unusually high hurricane activity we saw in the mid and late 90’s. There were five Presidential Disaster Declarations due to hurricanes during his time as Coordinator including: Bertha ’96, Fran ’96, Bonnie ’98, Dennis ’99, and Floyd ’99. Smith served as Emergency Manager until he was elected sheriff in Pender County in 2002. He served as Pender County Sheriff for 16 years before running for office as a NC State Representative.

Smith will oversee the day-to-day operations of the emergency operations center as the interim director. He will replace Charles Tear, who resigned, effective March 24.

Resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Helpful links for your business

Wednesdy, March 25, 2-3:30 p.m. take a free online class from the Small Business Center entitled “Preparing Your Business for the Threat of Coronavirus.”

You must register online for this online panel discussion. Access is limited, so please, register today.

If COVID-19 has impacted your business, there’s assistance available.

Businesses and individuals may obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or 1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan application forms can also be downloaded at disasterloan.sba.gov. Here’s a link for more information on low interest loans.

Be sure to visit SCORE, a free service with helpful links designed for your success.

The Small Business Administration offers information for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Click here for the link.

Misinformation and panic are two viruses you can control. Be informed. When in doubt, go to the CDC  or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services for COVID-19 information.

Pender County response to COVID-19

The Pender County Board of Commissioners are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety and health of Pender County residents and employees are of great concern.

Pender County officials continue to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this morning, there are 33 cases of COVID-19 in the State of North Carolina. Currently there are no cases in Pender County.

Pender County Health and Human Services is monitoring the pandemic and providing updated information to our communications personnel.

Consistent with state and CDC guidance, Pender County officials are following protocols to prevent the impact of COVID-19.

County operations and events

Pender County Government business will continue to operate, but several programs and services are impacted in order to help reduce risk to our community:

• All county-sponsored group activities and events have been suspended.

• All organized sports in Pender County parks have been suspended. Parks are not yet closed to the public, but that is a day to day situation to monitor.

• The facilities department is paying special attention to disinfecting all doorknobs, surfaces, etc. Each employee is also responsible for their cleansing workspace and equipment.

Pender Fire and EMS has issued protective measures for personnel.

• At this time, the Board of Commissioners, Planning Board, and most other official government meetings will continue as scheduled.

• Additionally, county employees will not travel out of town for business, will hold meetings, as much as possible, by conference call, webinar or a virtual platform.

• Visitation in the Pender County Jail has been suspended until further notice.

Cooperative Extension will postpone all educational programs until the end of April. The state is encouraging the department to work from home.

Utilities and solid waste will continue normal and emergency staffing.

• The Board of Commissioners authorized Pender County Utilities to temporarily suspend cutoffs during this event however, late fees and penalties will still accrue.

• The Pender County Sheriff offers a wellness check service called “Are You Okay?” To request a wellness check through the Sheriff’s Department call 910-259-1212.

• The Pender County Tax Office urges anyone paying business or personal property taxes to use the return envelope to mail in payments. The return address is Mt. Airy, which is where the county’s print vendor is located, which will in turn report all payments to Pender County.

Pender County Housing will continue by appointment only. All waiting lists are closed. All paperwork needed for housing assistance is available near the housing department entrance. Completed paperwork should be left in the drop box in front of the housing department office.

PAS-TRAN will run medical appointments only for transportation, effective March 20. This will be in effect until April 2, unless otherwise notified.

Pender Adult Services are suspending all senior center activities effective March 19. The last congregate meal will be served March 18 and Shelf Meals will be provided for the remainder of the week for Home Delivered Meals. Effective March 24, one hot meal will be provided for current congregate meal clients on a drive-thru basis only. Call PAS for information at 910-259-9119.

• Home Delivered Meal clients through Pender Adult Services and van rider congregate clients will receive one hot and one cold meal delivered with shelf meals for the week, effective March 24 and each following Tuesday until further notice. For questions call 910259-9119.

Visit CDC.gov for more information. The State of North Carolina has set up a Coronavirus hotline at 1-866-462-3821. Watch the Pender County Government website at www.pendercountync.gov for local updates and information.

Tram Road/Grassy Road fire, evening update

PENDER COUNTY – Throughout the day, North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) crews, in conjunction with Pender EMS and Fire and Pender County Emergency Management personnel, have been steadily working the wildfire situation within the Holly Shelter Game Land.

After morning forecasts indicated high winds and potential for erratic fire behavior, afternoon weather conditions proved to show no significant change in fire behavior.

Due to the coordinated efforts by all personnel working the incident, the threat of an escape from containment lines has been greatly reduced.

The area along the Highway 17 corridor from Shepards Road to Pinnacle Parkway continues to be monitored and will be a priority through the weekend to ensure the risk of spreading is minimized.

The current weekend forecast calls for a rain event, which will assist with wildfire suppression efforts. Citizens are encouraged to remain vigilant as there is still some smoldering within the perimeter of the fire.

The public is still advised to stay out of the Holly Shelter Game Land area as much as possible. Please avoid using drones in the area to ensure safe air space for NCFS aviation resources. Consideration for firefighter and public safety is the highest priority.

For any questions or concerns, please contact Pender County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 910-259-1210.

Severe weather could cause increased activity for Tram Road/Grassy Road fire in Pender County

PENDER COUNTY – The North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS) is working to contain a wildfire that started March 9 in Pender County near the Tram Road/Grassy Road area. The fire is located within the Holly Shelter Game Land and estimated to be 2,765 acres in size. At this time, the fire is 50% contained and is confined by a network of well-established roads within the interior of the Game Land property. However, due to fuel availability, the fire has potential for reburn and spread. Due to a predicted cold front for the area today that may create the potential for the fire to escape containment lines, NCFS staff is urging the public to use caution in the area of Lodge Road. Due to aggressive and shifting southwest to northwest winds, with the possibility for 30mph gusts, areas to the east of the fire may be impacted by smoke, creating hazardous conditions for motorists in the area of Holly Shelter Game Land. Areas of concern, east of the fire, include all roads north of Lodge Road and west of US Highway 17 to the Onslow County border. Additionally, areas along the Highway 17 corridor from Shepards Road to Pinnacle Parkway are being monitored.
County officials from Pender County Emergency Management and the Pender County Health Department are monitoring wildfire activity and are making plans to activate response as needed. Residents and businesses in the area should monitor communications outlets carefully as the status of this wildfire may change rapidly.
The wildfire is being managed by an NCFS Type 3 Incident Management Team (Hardee), which includes several tractor plow and engine strike teams and a team of support staff. There are 48 NCFS personnel working the wildfire with assistance from cooperating agencies.
The public is advised to stay out of the Holly Shelter Game Land area as much as possible. Please avoid using drones in the area to ensure safe air space for NCFS aviation resources. Consideration for firefighter and public safety is the highest priority.
For any questions or concerns, please contact Pender County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 910-259-1210.

Minor flooding expected

PENDER COUNTY – Areas along the Black River and Northeast Cape Fear River may experience minor flooding next week, according to readings of flood gauges from the National Weather Service and NOAA.

The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning for 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10 until further notice.

Along the Northeast Cape Fear River near Burgaw, the river is expected to crest at 10.5 ft. by Feb. 12. Gauges at this time on the Northeast Cape Fear River near Burgaw is 9.1 ft. and rising.

When river levels rise to 8-ft. the lowest portions of River Bend Road and River Birch Road are impacted. Minor flooding of roads in the River Bend and River Birch subdivisions. Croomsbridge Road west of NC 53 begins flooding as well. Additionally, at 11-ft. these areas plus Old Maple Hill Road are impacted and can become impassable.

The Black River is rising, however, at this time no homes will be impacted.

It will take almost a week before the high waters pass through the county into New Hanover County.

Weather forecasts call for rains on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.

Residents in low-lying areas are urged to stay alert. Please register for the free CodeRed service, available to all residents at http://www.pendercountync.gov/em/special-disaster-information/emergency-notification-system/.

River gauge readings are available online at https://water.weather.gov.

For more information, watch our Pender County Emergency Management website or Facebook, or call 910-259-1210 for details.

Water service will be disrupted at Montague Road TODAY

The Pender County Utilities distribution team is attending a water main leak at 507 Montague Rd. T&H Construction is working with the PCU team.

The team has no other option, but to shut off the water services at 421/Montague to just past the break on Montague Rd., due to repair, being a cut out and replace of cracked line.

The water line will be cut off at 11 a.m. TODAY, Jan. 30. The distruption will impact approximately 10 homes. The repairs are expected to be completed within the next 6 hours, and a coliform bacteria sample will be collected.

A code red is being sent at this time to all affected residents.

PCU recommends a boil water notification be advised to the residents of the listed affected area until further notice.

Additional information will be release if outside of the six hour window for repairs.

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